Hey, Kids! Let’s Plan a Picnic!

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My best summer memories include the tangy taste of lemonade, a red-and-white-checkered
tablecloth laden with picnic treats, and my boys playing a round of Wiffle Ball© on the freshly
mown lawn. I used to laugh when moms with older children told me to enjoy the fleeting summers with my children. Now, here I am with my last one about to leave for college. I find comfort in the fact that I listened to the more seasoned mothers around me by frequently saying, “Hey kids, let’s plan a picnic!”

Sometimes our picnics were well-planned events with invitations and decorations; others
involved throwing a blanket and some peanut butter sandwiches in a backpack and heading to
the beach. Some picnics ended with golden sunsets and blissful hearts; others in melt-downs
because of too much sugar, no naps, and sand in their shoes. I don’t regret any of it. In fact, I too
would say, “Enjoy these fleeting summers with your children” and “Plan picnics.” Here’s a few
ideas to add to a list you may already have.

1. The Rustic Picnic
This is the just-throw-it-in-a-backpack-and-go picnic. Grab a blanket, a thermos of water,
some quick sandwiches, maybe some apples, and head outdoors to explore. Who says picnics
need to be perfect? Sometimes just sitting in a field of tall grass, watching the spit bugs make
bubbles, or a spider spin its web in the sunshine make the best memories. Of course, some wild
yelling and games of hide-n-seek in the grass will add to the adventure.

2. The Backyard and Popsicles Picnic
At one point, we lived in a house with a wrap-around porch. It was a dream to sit out there
and watch the kids play. I loved calling them up to the porch for hotdogs and popsicles and
letting them clean off in the garden hose. It was tempting to just go inside and do my chores, but
the days I engaged in water fights and made chalk drawings on the driveway were of way more
value than a clean house.

3. The Mad Hatters Tea Party Picnic
Okay, now we’re getting serious. Sometimes, a planned event with invitations, special tea
cups, and fun treats is just what this queen of hearts needed. The summer we did this, I googled
how to make hats out of paper and ribbon. Top hats for the boys and bonnets for the girls. I even
had some cute little magician’s gloves that looked lovely when flowers and ribbon were added to
the wrists. Our girl guests thought they were in heaven. Our boys rose to the occasion and put on
their best manners. That is until someone shouted, “It’s my Unbirthday!” And we all stood on our
chairs and sang, “Happy unbirthday to you.”

4. The Beach Picnic
How lovely to have the picture-perfect beach scene with kids in matching swim suits and
your hair pulled back in a cute pony tail or tucked under a beach hat, your darlings sitting around
you on a large striped towel, and your umbrella swaying in a gentle breeze. Ha! Most likely you’ll be frazzled and sand will have found its way into the sandwiches while you wrestle to change a diaper under a wind whipped umbrella. Go anyway! The moments of building sand castles, chasing waves, and searching for rocks or shells will be the ones you treasure.

There are so many ways to picnic with your kids. I’ve seen parents picnicking at their kids’ sport
events and at the local playground. Maybe you have a special place like a barn, a loft, a pool, or
a kids’ playhouse. No matter what, I hope this is the summer you look back on as the one where
you called out, “Hey kids! Let’s plan a picnic.” You will be glad you did!

Joleen Steel is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Camping Stick Kids. You can download her backyard campout planning packet at:

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).